The many sides of Simone Forbes
Simone Forbes is one of Jamaica's most gifted sports personalities, having represented the country at the international level in four sports.
Known mostly for her exploits as one of the country's best ever netball players, Simone takes us through her life; her experiences and emotions, her triumphs and trials.
Simone takes us down the road as she discusses her family, netball president Marva Bernard, the Sunshine Girls as well as her regrets and having to endure a trial for a banned substance.
André Lowe (AL): Welcome to 'Sunday Talk', Simone. Thanks for joining us, let's start by hearing some more about you.
Simone Forbes (SF): Thanks for having me André.
AL: You, of course, represented Jamaica in four sports at the senior level, to begin with, how do you feel about that?
SF: Yes! Netball, football, softball and volleyball were my sports, basketball should have been the fifth, but it was too much and I just didn't have enough time for this in high school. I was (am) short and cannot dribble very well so that didn't go too far except that I played at Excelsior, G.C. Foster and at UWI (University of the West Indies). For me, whenever I played each sport, it felt like the only one; which was due to the love and commitment I had for each one. It was always an honour to represent my country and I did that with all the love, passion and commitment I had
AL: Of all the sports you played, if you had to choose your favourite, which one would that be and why?
SF: (Smile) My favourite is netball - no surprise there, and this is because at age five, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I sat at Hope Valley Experimental one afternoon watching the girls play and that did it for me.
AL: What would you say is your greatest sporting memory?
SF: I have many, many good memories in all the sports, but the two that have stuck with me and made the greatest impact were, firstly, at age 16 when I made the national senior netball team and secondly, in 2000 when the (national) Under-21 youth team made it to the finals of the World Youth Netball Championship in Wales, where we won silver medal.
AL: Nice ... Now, is there a sport that you really like but didn't get a chance to play at the highest level?
SF: No, I played all the sports that I liked and furthermore there was no space for anything else (smile).
AL: Lol, fair enough. Who is your favourite sportsman and sportswoman and please tell us why.
SF: Hmmmmmmm, at the very young age of 17, I believe, Michael Jordan and Connie Francis were my inspirations. I read a book and watched a documentary about Michael Jordan and his road to success, what made him the player he was at the time and that truly inspired me to be all I could be in whatever field of sport I was participating in. Every young girl at that age wanted to be as good as Connie Francis, back then. She was my role model and I knew that anything was possible.
Presently, I admire sports personalities who represent our country because I know firsthand that it isn't an easy job. It requires sooooooo many sacrifices and for some, the reward is their honour to represent Jamaica. That for me was the most rewarding feeling; nothing else could have produced that feeling.
AL: If you had to select a netball team consisting of the best players you have played with, who would make the team along with yourself?
SF: Carla Williams (GS); Simone Forbes (GA); Andrea Watson (WA); Sharon Wiles (C); Nerine Riley (WD); Kasey Evering (GD); Georgia Gordon (GK).
(Reserves): Connie Francis, Romelda Aiken, Nadine Bryan, Althea Byfield, Paula Thompson.
AL: Interesting team ... Anyway, do you ever miss playing international netball?
SF: I believe I have played so much netball in my lifetime to serve for another lifetime. What I miss sometimes is playing "NETBALL"; not international, just netball. During the semi-final match against Australia in the 2011 World Netball Championships (WNC), I remember feeling so helpless. I sat in tears watching the game feeling what the ladies must have felt during the game but couldn't express it because they were playing. I remember missing it because of what was unfolding in front of me. Other than that, the only time I remember missing playing international netball was while watching an old game against New Zealand on TV.
AL: What are your thoughts on the current Sunshine Girls squad?
SF: The team has some young ladies who are very talented but still need a lot of work and with time, if they stick with the programme, should be a force to reckon with. This team has a long way to go, but then the WNC is in 2015 so they have two years to get it right and I think anything's possible. During the recent series, I was very impressed with what I saw from some of the youngsters Kadijah Williams, Shanice Beckford and Adean Thomas and others. I think there's hope.
AL: What is the biggest disappointment of your sporting life?
SF: Not going to the WNC in 2011.
AL: Throughout your career, who would you say has been your biggest source of inspiration?
SF: My biggest inspiration has been my mom. I grew up knowing that netball - sports in general - would be my only way to university. I think my mother realised that too and so she never stopped me from playing any sport whatsoever. When I came home with aches and pains and so tired, she iced the injuries put her home remedies on and I'm good again. When I fell asleep in my training gear, she would take off the sneakers and leave me to sleep. I am blessed to have had two women throughout my career to always be there for me. Mrs Marva Bernard (Jamaica Netball Association president) was the second mother, she was always a constant in my life, ensuring that I understood the importance of a solid education. I have a master's degree because of her push for a scholarship for me which I got from the Mona School of Business. The association is blessed to have someone like her as president.
AL: You have had an exceptional international career but you have also had challenges. How big an impact did the issues around the banned substance affect you and how did you cope throughout?
SF: It really was a hard time for me because of what comes with the words "banned substance" and the time it happened. We were preparing for the WNC, which was going to be the last of my netball career. So from that end, I really felt awful, and also the fact that I was the leader prior to this and (when) and my team-mates needed me I wasn't there. This was a TEAM and we were looking forward to a good championship. I really wanted to be there so dealing with that was very hard.
But, luckily for me, I have a very supportive partner who was with me throughout this ordeal every step of the way.
AL: How did that influence your decision to retire from international netball?
SF: The ban did not have an influence in my retirement. In 2007, I made a decision that the 2011 WNC would have been my last after which I would retire from international netball. I retired in May 2011, had there not been a ban I then would have retired in July instead. I retired because it was time.
AL: I know you completed your second degree and that you still play league netball. What's next for you professionally and competitively?
SF: Actually, I have a MBA in Marketing but I want to go into the business of Sports Marketing.
AL: Well, all the best to you. Let's throw one last one in there, what's your favourite meal to prepare?
SF: I have two meals that I love preparing, stew peas and soup.
Hahaha! You know what they say about stew peas right (laughs) ... Anyway, it was an absolute pleasure having you with us. I thoroughly enjoyed our little chat, all the very best.
"The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made".
- NBA player Tim Duncan